MIAMI – The Miami Public Schools Enrichment Foundation (MPSEF) will hold its annual Blue Event fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 29, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Awards will include the naming of this year’s Outstanding Alumni, Chuck C. Neal, in addition to the naming of teacher grant winners.

The event will be held in the Calcagno Family Ballroom at NEO A&M College, 200 I St. NE. The cost is $50 per person or $30 for MPS employees.

Reservations can be made by e-mailing Amy Ishmael at aishmael@neo.edu

The event will include a cocktail hour beginning at 6:30 p.m. followed by dinner and the main event at 7 p.m. Dress is semi-formal to formal.

The Blue Event is an annual gala dinner fundraiser sponsored by the MPSEF, a charitable organization that supports and supplements our public schools, according to chair Georgeann Roye.

It’s one of three programs conducted by the foundation.

One is an annual set of teacher grants.

“Teachers write grants to us and we give direct classroom grants for various projects,” Roye said. “I believe we gave or facilitated $40,000 in teacher grants this year, which has been our main focus since the foundation was started.

“We also have an intensive mentorship program for middle and high school students. We only have 20 or so kids at a time that are identified as having great academic promise, but not great financial resources,” she said. “It’s called the Gee Scholars program, after a former senator and attorney here in town, Robert Gee, who is also one of the founding members, along with his wife, Nancy Gee, who taught public school kindergarten here for many years.”

The foundation’s motto, established in 1988, is “Igniting the Mind, Instilling Power, Inspiring Creativity, Shaping the Future.”

The goal of the foundation is to encourage excellence in Miami schools by awarding grants to teachers and schools who use the funds for special projects or programs that are innovative and enriching.

The Blue Event is the foundation’s main fundraiser each year and is an important opportunity for the community to show its commitment to Miami’s teachers and youth and to bridge the community and classroom to maximize student potential.

“We also fund every fifth grade student in the district going to a financial literacy program in the Tulsa area called JA Biz Town,” Roye said. “Everybody that has participated in it raves at how amazing it is at teaching fifth graders, in a very short, hands-on creative way, financial literacy concepts. That will be one of our big pushes this year. The Blue Event is our main annual event to raise funds for those programs.”

“We want to make sure that teachers know and feel that they are supported by members and businesses of the community, so the teacher grants are a way to show direct support for teachers and their efforts, and particularly creative or innovative classroom projects. That sense of teacher and student support is very important,” Roye said.

MPSEF continues to enhance the educational experience of all current and future Wardogs.

Donors from the community have made it possible for the foundation to provide grants and funding to MPS for students to learn and grow for more than 30 years.

Supporting projects from all areas of study and every school of the district, the MPSEF has awarded over $512,249 in grants.

“It’s one of those things that are a point of community pride,” Roye said. “The foundation was started in the wake of the Goodrich plant shutting down here and it was a way of saying this is not the last word about Miami. We are proud of who we are and we are going to establish a legacy that’s going to go forward in perpetuity.”

The MPSEF endowment is currently at a little over $1.6 million, Roye said.

“We have put some new investment policy measures in place and the 15 at-large member board just last fall went through its first strategic planning session that was facilitated by the Oklahoma Foundation For Excellence division called the Oklahoma Schools Foundation Network,” she said. “Their director came and did a full-day workshop with us and we had great and exciting ideas and momentum that came out of that and we are excited to roll out our vision over the next few years.”

As a tax-exempt organization, the MPSEF relies on support and contributions from members and friends, and the funds raised are used for specific educational purposes.

Donations are crucial and there are support options, including pledges, membership, and donations. You can give online or download the forms at http://mpsef.com and mail them in with a check to the MPS Enrichment Foundation, P.O. Box 1060, Miami, OK 74355.

“We feel like we have a really good team, especially with our collaboration with Superintendent Jeremy Hogan, and feel we are in a really great position to take the foundation to a new level. We’ve been in existence for over 30 years and are trying to position ourselves to be a source of pride and give back to this community for the next 30 years and far, far beyond that,” Roye said.

In addition to Roye, other MPSEF board members are Dr. Jeff Birdsong (vice chair), Bill Osborn (treasurer), Amy Walls (secretary), Becky Acupan, Kay Boman-Harvey, David Davis, Kim Folks, David Frazier, Megan Frazier, Ishmael, Melanie Kimbrough, Tara Oelke, Marcel Walther, Matt Whalen, Hogan, who is an ex-officio member, and MPS secretary Amy Harnar.

Steve Owens, one of the MPSEF founders, is an honorary Member.

For more information, contact the MPSEF at 26 North Main in Miami, log onto http://mpsef.com, or call 918-542-8455.